Getting Used to Joy

Greg Boyle writes: “Delighting is what occupies God, and God’s hope is that we join in. That God’s joy may be in us and this may be complete. We just happen to be God’s joy. That takes some getting used to.”


A common theme of this blog has turned out to be joy: losing it, finding it, maintaining it.

Some things that rob me of joy:
Car maintenance (and the cost thereof)
Fixing gadgets (and the cost thereof)

Especially the car. I love driving and I appreciate the opportunities a car affords, but I hate affording the car. It makes me grumpy and joyless in no time at all.


We read to our daughter from The Jesus storybook Bible every night. Some would say this is not a “real” Bible, but it is God’s word to us more often than not. I’m not sure how much Marina gets out of it, but I am cut to the heart almost every time we read.

Without fail, it seems, we come across a section called “The Singer” whenever I begin to worry about money, fundraising, our car, something that needs to be fixed, our budget, you name it. Without fail.

The Singer is essentially the sermon on the mount, with a special focus on Jesus’ admonition to “not worry”.

Conviction via the children’s Bible.


I met with a student who graduated recently yesterday and she said, in the middle of pontificating on many things, a sort of off-handed comment: “when was the last time you were really surprised by something? I don’t want to lose my ability to be surprised.”

We got Marina some new silverware and bibs, and she got to try them out a few days ago. Her face lit up like Taylor Swift winning a Grammy.

Pure joy.
Total Surprise.
Joining in God’s delight.

Marina has an ability to be surprised, to not worry about stuff, and to delight that continues to rub the edges off my hard heart.

Those things that rob you of joy: conflict, cars, computer, whatever it might be, name them, but don’t allow them to kill your ability to be surprised, to delight.

We happen to be God’s joy. Get used to it.

Enthusiasm and Joy

First, go watch this.

Now, not everyone is wired up like Jim Harbaugh. And that’s a good thing. Not everyone will express their joy and enthusiasm in quite the same way, but no matter how you are wired up people have a very visceral, gut-level reaction to you and what you do.

Do people sense your joy? Do people absorb your enthusiasm for what you do? Why or why not?

You don’t need to be a rah-rah head football coach to be able to inspire people with the joy and enthusiasm.

Let it show!

Tile Floors, Nonsense, and Fighting For Joy

During the past school year, as our family expanded and we entered the adventure of parenthood, we learned the importance of community in a whole new way. Some of our best friends, who also happened to be in the early stages of parenthood, moved back to other parts of the country, leaving us somewhat isolated.

Back in the early spring we started working towards creating a new sense of community, particularly with others who share the burden of life in campus ministry and parenthood. Compadres who understand the unique rhythms and challenges of our lifestyle.

The journey towards proximity with each other took us for a wild ride. We tried to help our friends move into our East Boston neighborhood. We thought about a huge house together in Allston or Brighton. Eventually we settled on Roslindale.

Apartments were secured, checks written, arrangements made and two of our three units made the move, but we were still uncertain. Or, I should say: roadblocked. Places fell through, rejection emails were received, the situation looked bleak. Grace and good fortune allowed us to stay in our place until we actually did find something.

We recruited help, rented a truck, and packed up. The day before the move our new landlord’s called and asked if we could push back the move date in order for them to finish one last project: retiling the kitchen.

No, we said, everything’s set to go and our current landlord’s expect us to be out tomorrow. The tile guys ended up canceling and the move went off unhindered.

But, I should have known something was up.

We’ve now been here for three weeks and the kitchen floor is maybe twenty percent finished.

Yesterday was the straw that broke my spirit’s back. For most of this project a couple of low-totem-pole guys have showed up at our house around noonish (despite promising to be here hours earlier) worked until three and then called it a day. I’m no expert on tile flooring, but I could tell that the work being done was the opposite of high quality.

So, yesterday, the boss shows up, takes one look at the shoddy workmanship and tears the whole thing up. Back to square one.

Meanwhile, our lives have been placed on hold. Ninety percent of our kitchen is still in boxes. Marina has yet to freely play in the living room (I’m certain she’d be walking by now if not confined to her room all the time). The downstairs portion of our home is consistently covered in a not-so-fine layer of dust.

The oh-so-slim silver lining to all of this is that we live in community and proximity to people who love us and care about us. I have no idea what we would do without their help.

This situation has also given me a new, experiential, understanding of the word nonsense. Literally, nothing about the whole process: moving out, moving in, getting settled, has made one bit of sense.

I like to tell stories in this space of things that I have learned, illumination gleaned from the ridiculous and difficult moments of life.

I share this story, not because it is the biggest challenge we have ever faced, but because I have no idea what is being illuminated here. It just feels like nonsense.

I know there are people going through much more difficult times right now. But in life we all run into nonsense at some point, and too often we want to quickly move the nonsense into the category of sense.

Sorry, guys, not there yet.

What I can say is this: few things rob me of joy faster than nonsensical situations like this tile floor. Sometimes you have to fight for joy.

My encouragement, especially if you are stuck in nonsense, is to do just that: fight for joy.

The Simple Joy of Splashing in the Bath

I can trend in the direction of cynicism. There are all sorts of reasons to be skeptical,photo
to be aloof,
to stay removed,
and to avoid getting to emotionally attached to anything.

The world works against joy:
trains don’t arrive on time
and people cut you off
and employees at businesses treat you poorly and have bad attitudes
and other people talk smack about “those” people
and your neighbors are annoying
and your co-workers are frustrating
and I’m just getting started.

I could go on.

But there is a better way to live. Cynicism is just too easy.

My daughter consistently reminds me that the world is actually an amazing and endlessly fascinating place.

There are so many things to see
and discover
and touch
and taste
and feel
and eat.

This weekend we discovered the joy of splashing in the bath.

Such a simple joy. Just flailing arms
and water all over the floor
and giggles.

It was beautiful.

There are so many things to wonder at.
Sunsets and sunrises.
A good meal.
Sitting around and talking
and laughing
and remembering.

I could go on.

Here’s to the simple joy of splashing in the bath.